How old is TOO old for a towing vehicle? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-05-2008, 01:42 PM   #1
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Hi,

I'm new to fiberglassrv.com, but have been coming here recently because I'm thinking about buying a 13' foot Scamp. I camped as a kid with my family, but I have never towed anything before. One of the reasons I'm interested in a Scamp is because it can be towed by most 4-cylinder vehicles.

So, I'm wondering if I can tow a Scamp with my Toyota Rav4, which is 10 years old with 110,000 miles on it. It has a standard transmission (stickshift), and it's in good regular driving shape with regular maintenance, etc. The owner's manual indicates that a RAV4 can tow up to 2000 lbs., so I'm not concerned about wet weight. But I am wondering, am I expecting too much from a 10-year-old vehicle?

Thanks!

--Karen
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Old 06-05-2008, 01:51 PM   #2
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to FiberglassRV Karen, we're glad you found us.

I can't address your question in particular, but I can tell you age doesn't mean a whole lot when it comes to these trailers, it generally doesn't mean much when talking about the age of the owners of the trailers and it probably isn't any different when it comes to the age of the TUG. Each and everything from trailer to owner to tug is all maintenance issues. Have you taken care of the Rav4 or is it on it's last legs (honestly).

My 2000 150 Ford F-150 has over 100,000 miles on it and is going to continue to pull my trailer just fine. It won't be put out to pasture because of the mileage. I really don't see much different between towing it when there was only 20,000 miles or 120,000 miles. It's been taken care of and will continue to be so. I am more attune to noises and the way the "peddle" feels tho, and check the tire pressure regularly and it faithfully goes in for regular maintenance. If fuel prices don't kill me first, I'll continue to use it.
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Old 06-05-2008, 01:55 PM   #3
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I hear that Toyota's are pretty good. There's a few here on FGRV that like them.

Of course, 110,000 miles and 10 years old is just broken in, in Volvo terms! Bear in mind that I am biased!

Then again, I'm no American Iron expert but I guess those TV's in the current Home Page photo are at least 60 years old!

Joking aside, it really depends on how well maintained the vehicle is and has been.

I'd jump in mine for a long trip at a minute's notice.

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Old 06-05-2008, 02:33 PM   #4
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I would say this depends on many different factors, and that only someone actually inspecting your vehicle could really answer this. If you're in doubt, I would definitely have the frame and welding checked out on the hitch to make sure things are in good shape. Better fix things before they break than after.

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I'm interested in a Scamp is because it can be towed by most 4-cylinder vehicles.
That's what they say (the salespeople). Although there are differing opinions on this subject, it seems that lot of vehicles towing capacities have been downgraded with the recent year models, and the most capable 4-cylinder vehicles found on the market today are probably limited to 1500 lbs. I wouldn't be surprised if most 4-cylinder vehicles today weren't even rated for towing at all. Not sure if it's a question of construction or lawyers, but if you wanted to go by the book with a recent vehicle, and with a trailer weighing somewhere between 1400-1900 lbs, you would most likely have to look at V6's.

A good starting point in my opinion is finding out the real weight of the trailer and not using any of the numbers in the literature about trailer weight. At least you'll have real numbers to work with.
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Old 06-05-2008, 03:37 PM   #5
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I am surprised that an older RAV4 would have that high a tow rating, the new RAV4 4bangers are rated for 1000lbs.

We tow our 13 foot trillium trailer with a 1991, 350,000km Toyota 4cyl truck (2.4l 2.2r) with no issues whatsoever. Now, it's a larger vehicle then the RAV4 and trucks are designed to tow but I have no issues with the KM's on this truck. My mechanic has 450,000km on hisToyota truck and goes camping all over our province without any worries.
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Old 06-05-2008, 04:37 PM   #6
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Look at it this way ... in a few years you can go to a FGRV Rally and maybe win the door prize for oldest tow vehicle and/or the prize for smallest engine. We've missed out on both (ours is too new) but the smallest engine prize went to a Subaru towing a 16ft Scamp with a 2.4l 4 banger.

We tow our 1983 16ft Scamp (2200lbs loaded) with a 2004 Chevy Colorado that has a 2.8L 4 cyl and 5 speed manual and a tall rear gear. Not the best tow vehicle in the world maybe; but it's what we have and it's PAID FOR! It also gets 20mpg towing the Scamp if we keep the speed down under 60 mph.

Take good care of your RAV4 and baby it a bit, it should work fine.

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Old 06-05-2008, 04:55 PM   #7
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IMHO, the AGE of the tow vehicle means VERY little, its all in the frame strength, engine size and choice of transmissions and gearin in the rear end, heres some examples of old timers that still tow.
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Old 06-05-2008, 06:00 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the great replies. My RAV4 goes in for regular maintenance and I don't "defer" any recommended repairs, so I assume it's in good shape. I will take it to my mechanic for a thorough checkup though. I don't have a hitch, so that would be something I'd need to add.

Is there a difference, as far as towing goes, between a standard and an automatic transmission? Is one better than the other for towing a trailer?

--Karen
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Old 06-05-2008, 10:39 PM   #9
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The Standard/Auto tranny for towing issue is an on going spat. The auto is smoother (shifting wise) where as the standard does give you more control. In the 'old days', auto trannys were ALWAYS more costly to repair than a simple clutch. Now-a-days the two are probably on an even par .....both very expensive. You might also want to consider the area where you are most likely to be towing, the plains or the hills. You'll be shifting more on the hills if thats a concern. Fuel economy also needs to be factored in here and I believe auto trannied cars get slightly worse fuel economy compared with autos. ALL factors are relivant to you own driving practices.
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Old 06-05-2008, 11:25 PM   #10
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I pull my 1982 16' Scamp trailer with a 1999 4cyl Subaru Forester with 160,000 miles on it. Last year I pulled the Scampster to the factory in, Backus MN, and back to Austin, TX. The only issue was long steady sloping hills, slowed down to 50 mph. I will be upgrading the TV this year so I can head to the mountains in the near future.

Good Luck!
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Old 06-06-2008, 11:48 AM   #11
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Some other things to think about:

Weight is not the only thing that puts strain on the tow vehicle. As speed increases so does wind resistance which is in many ways the same as added weight as far a the engine is concerned. So keep the speed down.

If you have a tachometer pay attention to what RPM it is doing in top gear with no trailer then see how much it increases when towing. My current tow vehicle a 3.3 L Toyota Sienna is turning about 2200 RPM @120 km/hr when towing and only about 1750 when not towing. At 120km/hr my old tow vehicle, a 2.5L Subaru Outback, was around 4000 RPM when towing and under 3000 RPM when not towing. Personally I think that is too many revs on a sustained basis and especially if it is hot out.

You should be realistic about how fast you will tow. Many people plan to stay at or below 100km/hr (62 mph) but few actually do it. When driving across the prairie for example where you can see foreever and all the other vehicles are doing 120-130kph it is tempting to let it creep up.

Another factor is the relative weights of the trailer to the tow vehicle. I am happiest when the tow vehicl substantially outweighs the trailer so that if things get awkward there is less tendancy for the trailer to be controlling the tow vehicle.

Just some thougts but I think a Rav 4 should be up to the job if you are able to limit speed and weight.

Alan
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Old 06-07-2008, 02:14 AM   #12
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Find out for sure what the Rav4 is rated to tow by looking in the owner's manual. That's the real deal.

There's more to towing than pulling it, one has to stop and steer it. Toyota may or may not have set the limit for something like wheelbase or overhang or weak transmission or insufficient cooling or high rear end ratio, etc.

I found with my 82' Dodge D150 (used it until 2005, when it was 23 years old and had 215,000 miles), rated for 2,000 lbs, that the weak point was indeed the small clutch. Worst times were getting started on a hill or backing slightly uphill or on rough ground because one needs to slip the clutch more going backwards.
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Old 06-07-2008, 04:06 PM   #13
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Most manufacturers rate a stick shift at a lower towing capacity than an automatic. The clutch is the weak point rather than the transmission itself.

The owners manual is the place to look for tow ratings. If you don't have one try e-mailing or phoning the manufacturer. I would not rely on what a dealer tells you unless he could show it to you in factory literature.
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Old 06-08-2008, 04:14 PM   #14
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Just a few years back, Ford did a major downgrade of manual trans tow capacities with no equipment changes. I talked to a local Ford truck manager and he said the reason was too many driver-fault clutch replacements, putting Ford in a tough place customer relations-wise.

I had a lot of clutch problems on my Dodge because the gear ratios in first/reverse and the rear end were too high. I later changed the rear end and it got much better, but by then the rough handling had taken its toll on the engine. Had it been equipped with a granny gear instead of an over-drive, I would still be driving it.

That's the time that 4WD comes in handy -- One can shift into 4W Low and get the rig going in most any situation without slipping the clutch much at all.
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